Let the next generation be born with the knowledge of what has passed.
— From the poem the Keeper by Joane Cardinal-Schubert
Canada marked the 85th anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations in 2014 with celebrations all year long at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. For the final exhibit at the Prince Takamado Gallery, visitors are being greeted by the work of Alberta artists.
Alberta chose to rely on the curatorial wisdom of the late Joane Cardinal-Schubert. The Alberta Foundation of the Arts chose a selection of artworks from a collection she had previously assembled for the foundation. A selection by 12 Aboriginal artists was presented as the exhibition Narrative Quest. It showcases a variety of traditional and contemporary styles in diverse media. The prevalent themes in these artworks are based on stories – stories that have been shared by the elders, stories of a search for understanding and meaning, stories of identity and belonging, and stories retold to preserve a threatened culture.
They are stories immersed in the past, reflective of the present, and hopeful for the future. Examples include:
- A juxtaposition of Aboriginal traditional life with contemporary experience. In his collection of photographs, an Urban Indian, artist Terence Houle is pictured grocery shopping, working in an office cubicle and riding public transit—all in elaborate powwow regalia.
- A reflection on the role of animal symbolism in aboriginal culture. In his oil painting Tanager Terry McCue pairs one powerful creature, the moose, with smaller, delicate creatures, a bird and a turtle, a comment on a peaceful relationship between unlikely partners.
- At the Fiddle Camp, an acrylic painting by David Garneau is a swirl of sky and air and smoke, and the teepee is presented as a central point of the piece.
The Alberta Foundation of the Arts will continue to expand its Aboriginal holdings and look for more opportunities to exhibit Alberta artists, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, nationally and internationally.
Narrative Quest features the artwork of these Aboriginal artists: Dale Auger, Bruno Canadien, Joane Cardinal-Schubert, David Garneau, Tanya Harnett, Terrance Houle, Alex Janvier, Brenda Jones-Smith, George Littlechild, Terry McCue, Frederick McDonald, and Jane Ash Poitras.